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Pakistan: Realities beyond the clichés

Some reflections on the 2010 flood catastrophe

“Natural disasters have invariably been transformed into man-made disasters, through the unpreparedness and dysfunction of government institutions, the incompetence of its politicians, the greed of its economic agents, the tenuous nature of support from civil society and the inability to mobilize large-scale support from the world community.” (Awami Times Online) These are harsh but telling words, Gabriele Köhler finds.


Floods occur annually in Pakistan, triggered by the monsoon, and are often severe: in 1992, they displaced 10 million people, in 2005 8 million. The 2010 flooding is the most massive in history, with the Indus River swelled 40 times its usual depth. According to UN and official Pakistan figures, an estimated 800 000 people are stranded, and between 17 and 20 million people, at least 10% of Pakistan’s population of 177 million, are affected (as at late August)...

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